SABBEX gets schooled by Michelle Van Petegem from Currency Partners SA
SABBEX: Give us some brief background. How long has the business been around and how did it all begin?
MICHELLE: Currency Partners was established 8 years ago, specialising in international payments in and out of SA. Since then, we have grown to 24 staff, with a Business Development team throughout South Africa.
Currency Partners has offices in Rosebank, Johannesburg and Constantia, Cape Town.
Licensed by the FSB as an authorised Financial Services Provider (No. 35134). Authorised by the SARB to act as a Foreign Exchange Intermediary (No. 1431).
SABBEX: Is it a new business model compared with other services already active in the market? If not, what is your competitive advantage?
MICHELLE: Currency Partners is one of a few FX Intermediaries in the market but, due to our volumes, we are able to access the best pricing available. In addition to this, our account opening process is paperless and we have the fastest turnaround times in the market.
We don’t just process your currency transfers, we provide a specialised service to ensure that our clients are informed and receive unrivalled customer service.
Our team is world class, always making service their number one priority.
SABBEX: Are banks effectively out-sourcing this currency / exchange function to save on manpower? Why not do this in-house?
MICHELLE: Currency Partners prides itself on offering more value than the bank’s can:
- Business Development team specialising in currency transfers and are available to meet with clients to discuss their requirements
- Tax Clearances and SARB approvals
- Rate Alerts and Firm orders
- BOP (balance of payment) forms completed by our team for the client
- Interest bearing settlement accounts
SABBEX: Are you seeing an uptake (of services) both here and abroad?
MICHELLE: Definitely. Service is important to everyone, especially when it comes to their money. As more of the public become aware of intermediaries like ourselves who offer better service in general as well as a saving on their FX purchases, why would they not use us?
SABBEX: Sailors / boat builders often have to deal in foreign currency. Is this why you’re reaching out to this sector?
MICHELLE. Indeed. We could offer the industry better service and pricing than what they are currently receiving from the banks directly. We don’t only save our clients’ money but also time. Making the entire FX process as simple and giving them more time to focus on their business.
SABBEX: Do you have any specific products / services tailor-made for the boat building sector, or does the business model apply across all sectors?
MICHELLE: Benefits to Private Individuals buying their dream yacht:
- We typically save our clients between 0,5% and 3% on personal transfers with the exchange rates from the banks, which translates into a typical saving of between R5,000 – R30,000 per R1 million transferred (or currency equivalent).
- We also handle the foreign tax clearance applications (if required, buying more than R1mill FX per annum) and SARB special approval applications as part of our service at no additional cost.
- We can open a foreign currency account for individuals (GBP, USD, EUR) and offer interest on the USD notice account.
Yacht Builders and Brokers:
- Currency Partners has a business development team to meet with clients, discuss the clients requirements and offer guidance on future currency transfers.
- Currency Partners assist business’s in managing their currency risk using FECs (Forward Contracts) and other hedging strategies
- Foreign Currency Accounts offered with interest on the USD account.
- Interest bearing settlement accounts
- None of our services attract additional charges, as our margin is always reflected in the quoted rate.
- This includes our consulting with banks’ Exchange Control departments and obtaining any SARB applications. Our specialist Corporate FX Team offers bespoke solutions and free advice to help you optimise your margins
- Competitive exchange rates
- Our Client Services and Payment Teams complete all documentation and BoP (Payment) form
SABBEX: Are there any regulatory issues that potential clients need to be aware of?
MICHELLE: No, there are no regulatory issues when dealing with an FX intermediary. Currency Partners is licensed by the FSB as an authorised Financial Services Provider (No. 35134) and authorised by the SARB to act as a Foreign Exchange Intermediary (No. 1431).
We will guide clients on all exchange control regulations for their fx transactions.
SABBEX: Are you keen on sailing? How about giving it all up and buying a yacht?
MICHELLE: I am indeed. Have already given up my job once before to go sailing. I completed my YachtMasters and went on a sailing sabbatical for about 3 years. Alas being adult is now back on track.
SABBEX: Monohull or multi-hull?
MICHELLE: Can’t I choose both? For more relaxed water I will always prefer the stability a Mutlihull can offer. But for longer journeys like an ocean crossing with possible heavier seas then Monohull is the winner. Hobies are getting most of my attention lately so if I really had to choose only one then Multi.